My Felted Mariah

Filed under: Knitting,Tutorials — Alicia @ July 23, 2008

I just finished another cardigan with a zipper. This time I made Jodi Green’s Mariah (here’s in Ravelry, and my Ravelry project). I’d like to be able to say that it turned out great, and without a hitch, but as most knitters know, that is not always the case.

It turned out huge. I made my swatch, and checked my gauge as I was making it, but it still came out too big.

I looked around online to find a fix for this, and most people recommended to frog and redo, or to give it away. No way! I’m too lazy and selfish to do that, so I felted it.

Felting is not for the faint-of-hart, so I can’t, in good conscience, recommend you try it. I was lucky, and careful and it turned out OK, but it could have just as easily turned out in a complete disaster.

If you insist on trying it, here’s what I did:

  1. I first tried doing it by hand in my bathroom sink, alternating between hot and cold water. Try this way first to see how the yarn will react. Even better, try it with a swatch first. If you have to shrink just a tad, this may do the trick, but I needed it to shrink several inches from all sides (my sleeves, for example, needed to go from 25 in. to 22 in.)
  2. After trying the previous technique a couple of times with very little shrinkage, in a fit of rage I threw it in the washing machine and measured the sleeves every minute to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it. After about 4 minutes it was done.

Here’s the result:

Felted Mariah sweater

Felted Mariah sweater

A perfect fit, but the cables don’t stand out as nicely as before. I’ll still wear it with pride… in winter, because it’s like an oven in there!

The next step was to add the zipper. As most of the women in my knit night know, my mom does my zippers for me, which is a bit of a pain because I only see her every six months (I have to time my cardigans carefully).

The problem is that my mom got fed up and told me to pay attention because she wasn’t going to do it again… So for the second part of this article, here’s a tutorial on how to put a zipper on a knitted item.

I documented step by step what my mom did, so hopefully next time I’ll be able to do it on my own.

Step 0: Find a zipper

Before you start, you need a zipper. If you are lucky, you’ll find a zipper that fits your cardigan nicely. Since this cardigan is a difficult one, it required a 19 in. zipper. Zippers only come in even numbers (18 in. or 20 in.) But luckily, you can modify your zipper to fit by removing the extra teeth, and moving the zipper stopper thingies (I don’t know what they are called). Here’s my 20 in. zipper in the process of being shortened:

The bottom half has had 8 teeth removed

The bottom half has had 8 teeth removed

Use pliers for removing the stoppers and teeth. Be careful not to break the stoppers, you’ll need them later. The teeth you can just yank off.

I haven’t tried this with plastic zippers. My feeling is that you’d need new stoppers, since the original ones would break while being removed.

Step 1: Baste the edges together

You want the edges of your sweater to match, so you have to baste them together like so:

Baste the edges together

Baste the edges together (right side of cardigan up)

If you don’t know how to baste, has a How to Baste Tutorial.

Step 2: Baste the zipper in place

You can try to just pin the zipper in place, but they may get in the way when you try to sew them in. What my mom did was to first pin the zipper in place, and then baste it:

Basted zipper (wrong side of cardigan shown)

Basted zipper (wrong side up)

Step 3: Sew it in place

You can do it by hand, but you’ll probably want to do it with a sewing machine. Just read your sewing’s machine instructions on how to use the special foot for attaching zippers:

Zipper sewn in by machine (right wide up)

Zipper sewn in by machine (right wide up)

Just go slow, and try to go on a straight line.

The result

The zipper in place

The zipper in place

I’ll try to do it on my own next time. It’s pretty straight forward.

Further Reading


  1. Well done! I look forward to seeing it in person… in January.

    I’ve never shortened a separating zipper – thanks for the tips.

    Comment by misstea — July 23, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  2. So I live far off in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere. There is no Joanne Fabrics or Michaels in the county. For the life of me, I can’t FIND a zipper to sew into my daughter’s Lopi Lite Dog Cardigan. Any suggestions for where to find one on line? When I googled it, I got nowhere, as zippers for cloth seem different, and knitting stores don’t carry zippers…I like the style in your photo above…Can you help a lost knitter in the woods?


    Comment by susan kjellberg — August 19, 2008 @ 8:05 pm

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